Sunday, November 30, 2008

Frederick the Great of Prussia


The name I go by is Frederick the Great, Prussia. As you can tell from my picture I am extremely good looking. Anyway I was born in 1712 in Berlin of the Hohenzollern dynasty. As a child I was given tutors by my father in which to only teach me certain subjects, ruling anything to do with art and music. However, my mother managed to sneak in certain teachings about music and art. When my father found out he locked me up in a dungeon for months and fired all of my tutors. He then proceeded to making me watch one of my friends be beheaded in front of me. (He was quite the kidder) In 1740 when my father passed away I took the thrown as King of Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg. I knew immediately what had to be done and fast. I quickly began developing the military extensively, seeing that for my nation to become a force to be reckoned with it would have to be respected, and the army could accomplish that for me. With this developing military I helped to further develop the Prussian economy, bringing in the wealt that we so desired and needed. I have been known as being a tolerant ruler of religions so long as the people conducting them are truly good people. I have also been quoted as saying that "may there be Turks or Pagans, we shall build mosques and churches". My love of music has never left my sight. I am more than proficient at the flute and have composed over 100 sonatas that are still being played in this day and time. I have written one famous work by the name of "On the Forms of Government" which states my view on what a good government requires to be fully functional. If anyone still wonders why I have been given the title, Frederick "the Great" just look at everything that I have done for my country. I increased our sea power, made Prussia a world power in record time, developed a system of government for which will spread through Europe like wildfire, and have never let the unimportant differences in life distract me from the truly main things tht I need to focus on. I am the ultimate ruler and as you can see I have the evidence to prove it.

Immanuel Kant


I am Immanuel Kant, esteemed philosopher hailing from the Prussian City of Konigsberg. In my lifetime, I wrote such works on reasoning, religion, and ethics as Lectures on Ethics, Critique of Practical Reason, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, and Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals. With the thoughts contained within these writings, I have been a key influence on most philosophical movements since my time. The latter writing, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals, is a statement that can be summed up in my ethical theory. My ethics of human behavior are based off of the principle of the categorical imperative, a rule that human action must satisfy in order to be ethical and thus “good”. Human actions should be first and foremost designed to promote the good and happiness of others and themselves, but the imperative can be considered an ethical law that must be followed. The end is not so important as the means, for how can anyone be good if not through good intentions? My ethical theories have been used, in conjunction with Utilitarianism and the theories other select thinkers (Ross), as guidelines for ethical decisions in medical situations.
I have spent all my life in my home city, as I have never been an overly “healthy’ individual. But the thinking and reflection I have performed I would deem most adequate to a healthy mind. In example, I would consider myself a deist in the sense that I have concluded that a God must exist. For, even if you can scientifically trace effect and cause back to the origin of the universe, where did this original cause stem from? The only conclusion can be the presence of some higher power, a good and benevolent God. I do not care what God is like, only that there is a higher power that drives and judges human actions. If there is no God, the intentions of society would be without guidance, without a moral compass, and ultimate cause would have no origin. I must, therefore, believe in the existence of a deity.
On that note, I must say that I look forward to making the acquaintance of you, my esteemed colleagues, and engaging in enlightening conversation on other pivotal topics.

Immanuel Kant

Edmund Burke

I am Edmund Burke. I was born on January 12th of 1929 in Dublin, Ireland. I'm pretty sure I'm going to die on July 9th of 1797, but what do I know? My father, Richard, was a lawyer. My mother raised me and my fourteen siblings, although not very well seeing as only four of us lived past the age of fifteen. When I was twelve my older brother and I were sent to Ballitore Academy. I studied there for four years under Abraham Shackelton. Master Shackelton was a quaker, and did much to teach me religious tolerance. In 1744, at the age of 16, I began attending Trinity College in Dublin. I studied the classics, logic, rhetoric, composition, moral philosphy, history, and physics in my four years at Trinity. I learned much in the ways of Oratory. After graduating from Trinity I enrolled at Middle Temple in London. My father pushed me to this, as he wanted me to become a lawyer like himself. Law did not interest me much, however, and I did little to apply myself to my studies. My father was not pleased by this, and withdrew my living allowances in 1756. It was then that I published my two most renound works, " A Vindiction of Natuarl Society" and "An Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sbulime and Beautiful". In 1757 I married the daughter of my physician, Jane Nugent. My first son, Richard, was born in 1758; another child was born soon after but died in infancy. At this time my main source of income came from the editorial work I did for the "Annual Register". I worked anonymously for the journal until 1791. In 1765, after coming to the attention of various local political figures, I was given a secretarial position in the office of the Prime Minister, Lord Rockingham. In that same year I was elected into the House of Commons. Many tried to keep me out of Parliment because of my humble status, and background; a lot of guys hated on my Irish accent. Others called me "the brain of the whigs" and considered me to be quite skilled in rhetoric and oratory. While in Parliment I tried to convince the government not to tax the American Colonies because I felt that a succesion from England by the colonies would be a detrimental. I also sought freedom and liberties for Irish Roman Catholics. Though I am a Protestant, I felt no people should be oppressed as the catholics of Ireland were. I also warned of the dangers of the French Revolution. I feared that anti government sentiments might cross to England and endanger the strength of the state. I stood for trust in government, and equality in all men. I was called "the father of modern conservatist thought" and was an unmatched orator on any podium or in any office.

Jonathan Swift

My name is Jonathan Swift, I was born November 30th (happy birthday to me) 1667 in Dublin Ireland. I am one Ireland's greatest novelist, satirist, and pamphleteer. I was enrolled at Trinity college in 1689. I worked under Sir William Temple in England loyally until his death in 1699. In 1704 my first two satires were published. The first being A Tale of A Tub, and the other one was titled The Battle of the Books. I was a firm believer in the Church of England. From 1699 to 1710 I worked at multiple different Church Posts. Until 1709 I endorsed the Whig Party but once the party fell I switched over in supporting the Tories. In 1720I moved back to Ireland where I lived the rest of my life. In 1720 I became active in Ireland's Political Affairs and wrote Pamphlets regarding the Issues. A famous Pamphlet of mine is called Drapiers Letters. This pamphlet made me a hero among the people of my land. My most famous work is Gulliver's Travels which I wrote in 1726. It was about a man who traveled to obscure places throughout the world. From 1736- until I imagine I die in 1745, I picked up Poetry. I diversified my writings and became a poet and wrote the Versus of Death. Many find that I am clinically insane, however, I think there is another reason why I have Deafness and Nauesa and Pain daily.

(Later on it was established that I in fact had Meniere's Syndrome,. A disease found in the Inner Ear)


My name is Francois-Marie Arouet. I was born on November 21st, 1694 in Paris. I went to a Jesuit school, where I received my education. When I was 16, I befriended some aristocrats in Paris and used my wittiness to entertain Parisian society. Unfortunately, my satirical attitude offended the French government and I was imprisoned for eleven months. While in prison, I wrote my first major play, Oedipus, and also adopted my pen name, Voltaire. A pen name would protect me from the government. After insulting Chevalier De Rohan, a nobleman, I was forced to choose between imprisonment and exile. I chose exile and moved to England for three years between 1726 and 1729. I was driven to read John Locke’s philosophy and also was very interested in Newton’s math and science. I later wrote a book praising English customs, but mostly John Locke. I am not an atheist, though many historians will argue that I am. I strongly believe that God exists, though in reason, not religion. In A Treatise on Toleration, I say that we should regard all men as our brothers; Virtue is Better than Science. I also think that individual freedom is important. I died in France in 1778. Someone stole my remains 36 years later and left them in a garbage heap.


My name is Francois-Marie Arouet, but most know me as Voltaire. I way born in 1694 in Paris and will most likely die around 1778. I am a French Enlightenment author, critic, essayist, historian, and philosopher. When I was a young man, I ended up attending a Jesuit College where I acquired many ideas and feelings of rebellion. These feelings led me to write satirical works, even in a time of strict censorship. The Catholic Church put me in jail for my extreme political, religious, and philosophical works. It was in jail that I adopted my pen name, Voltaire (an anagram of AROVET LI, the Latin spelling of my surname). From jail I wrote two of my most famous works, Henriade (celebrating the life of Henry IV), and a successful tragedy called Oedipe. I was basically exiled from France and will live in England, Germany, and Italy for most of my life. I will not allowed to enter France until I am basically on my deathbed, when I am welcomed into Paris as a hero. I am able to continue my work by living in bordering locations of France. Some of the plays, comedies and tragedies I’ve written include Brutus, Zaire, Erphile, Mahomet, Meope, and Semiramis. I also wrote Elements de la philosophie de Newton, The Age of Louis XIV, Micromegas, Candide, Treatise on Tolerance, L’Ingenu, and La Princesse de Babylone. The literature I wrote in the form of a series of letters, known as the letters philosophiques, are by far my most influential yet. They covered many issues like religion, trade, politics, government, art and philosophy. These letters were very strong representations of the society I live in and the Enlightenment. My main concern and contribution to mankind related to religious toleration and to find justice for those victims of persecution. Organized religion, in my opinion is not vital for mankind. That being said, I think religious toleration is the only way to go. Churches like the Catholic church had low toleration. I am a skeptic of the Bible, and I believe it will even disappear from the face of the Earth in 100 years or so. I believe God was invented by people to create the “higher power” they need in order to function. I argue that the best form of government would be a constitutional monarchy. An enlightened person should rule the people, allowing the equality, fair taxes, and personal freedoms. Under these guidelines, all people would have equal opportunities. I denounce supernaturalism, religion and the power of the clergy, according to my studies, for the ability of human progress. When in Italy, I studied sciences and wrote many essays on Newton. I admire him for his ability to bind all scientific findings and rules to one universal law.

Denis Diderot

My name is Denis Diderot. I was born on October 15th, 1713 in Langres, France. I grew up in an avid bourgeoisie household, and my father being a very strict religious man through me into the Jesuit Boarding school. Thanks to my smarts I excelled as a student and was thought of as brilliant. I aced everything. I became a writer after trying to become a preacher which I loathed, and failing to become a lawyer. My father rarely talked to me at that point. The one thing most people know me for is the Encyclopédie. I was selected as the general editor for the project and spent the next 26 years devoting my genius, and writing talents into publishing the 10 volume encyclopedia. My goal in creating the Encyclopédie was to assemble the knowledge scattered across the earth so everyone can have access and discover what man was made to be. Other works I am known for is my book Philosophical Thoughts, and Letters on the Blind. I play a huge role in the progress of mankind because my Encyclopedia spreads, teaches, and connects cultures and all of mankind in ways nothing else has before. It is based on science and fact, not religion. I was exposed to new technology and crafts when I was editing it and now the people who possess my 10 volumes can have that same experience. I most relate my self to René Descartes. He and I are both true philosophers. I agreed with Descartes in that the world was created by God but is based on fact and science, and everything on earth is sustained by a force that is distinct from all physical forces but life is self-determined. Censorship has caught up to me in my life. In my book Philosophical Thoughts, I wrote with a controversial voice. I was beginning to move away from my father’s wishes and was becoming an atheist… one of the first. The church saw it as a threat and used their power to put me in prison for 3 months. After that I didn’t publish any more of my writings (my daughter did after I died). It is definitely important to see and experience other parts of the world and other cultures. This is how I wrote my Encyclopédie, traveling and experiencing what other people have perfected and using more productive ways as substitute for yours. You learn much more from other cultures than you do from your own. I do not believe there is a god. A person who should rule over others should be smart, skilled in many fields and should use his power for the greater good. I have done what can be to promote human knowledge. Spreading and sharing knowledge is the best tool to maximizing progress to man. I like French music and I am a fan of Rousseau.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My name is also, remarkably, Jean Jacques Rousseau. My early life was a troubled one. My mother died shortly after i was born due to birth complications. Throughout my childhood I received an informal education from my father. I learned to read and write, and a little bit of history, and I learned a lot about the Calvinist faith. When I was 13 my father got into a spot of trouble, and I was sent to live with an uncle. For several years I was apprenticed as a notary and then an engraver, but I left Geneva after three years. In Italy I received work and board from a French Baroness, who also happened to be a Catholic. Under her influence I converted to Catholicism, thus losing my citizenship of Geneva. In 1742, thinking I could establish myself with my new musical notation system, I left for Paris. There I befriended Denis Diderot, and when he was arrested and imprisoned for his writing, I realized how society corrupts humanity. This is when my real lifes work began. I believed in the natural goodness of humanity.
I developed strong ideas on education and on society. In Emile, translated to "On Education", I laid out how education would be most successful. The aim of education is to learn how to live righteously. The Social Contract outlines my ideas on society. Every person should have certain individual liberties. Both of these works were very controversial, and burned by governments. Catholic educators in France burned Emile, while in Geneva the Calvinist government did the same to The Social Contract. I fled persecution after my house was stoned, and took refuge with friend and fellow philosopher David Hume. For the rest of my life I was extremely paranoid of conspiracies against me. I lived the last years of my life under the patronage of two Frenchmen. In 1778, I died.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Adam Smith

I was born in 1723 in Scotland as the son of Adam Smith and Margaret Douglas. My father had died before I was born, so I was raised by my mother. I attended Glasglow and Oxford universities and became a professor of moral philosophy at Glasgow in 1752. After lecturing for a couple of years, I published The Theory of Moral Sentiments in 1759. In the book, I argued that the human communication depends on sympathy between “agent and spectator.” But what I truly focused on was economy.

I believe that the impulse of self-interest work toward the public welfare in economy. I even wrote a book about it: An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. A person “neither intends to promote the publick interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it… he intends only his own gain.” If each person chases his own interest, the general welfare of the society fosters as a whole. Free trade system is essential in this context for the maximum development of wealth; trades enable exchange of variety of goods. It is the “invisible hand” that regulate the market system and satisfied the economic needs.

The theory I developed is SO good that it will be still studied three hundred years later. How do I know? No comment.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

My mother gave birth to me on the 28th of June, 1712 in Geneva Switzerland. My mother died 9 days after I was born, and my father raised me on his own. I liked music when I was younger and I wrote an opera or two in my younger years. I never was very good at anything but I was strong enough to make it through on my own. I struggled off and on with women of pleasure and fortune much to my surprise and dismay. I discovered my talent and infinite passion for writing when I entered an essay writing contest for Dijon Academy. This essay (which won the contest) set me off on my writing career. I wrote a novel which became the pleasure of rich and poor alike called La Nouvelle Héloïse a masterpiece, of which I am quite proud, comparable to (but most probably better than) Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. With my new found talent I laid unto the world my thoughts on life. With L'Émile ou de l'éducation and Du contrat social I set forth my greatest maxims, that society is responsible for the banes of man and that life in the state of nature with mans natural liberties is better than the enslaving society of today. The first (this is me!) being a treatise on childhood education (although I never kept mine) and the second a piece on the necessary "social contract" of government that transforms primal man into a moral and reasonable human being (if gone about properly). Unfortunately the public was not ready for such genius and many barbaric authorities condemned and burned them. I had many friends who helped me along (many of whom I distrusted and/or deserted) like Diderot, David Hume, the Prince de Conti, and Étienne Condillac. In my old age I wrote an autobiography of sorts called Confessions. My life's work may have been called contradictory by later readers but I like the description different much better.

Why did the refutation of the Ptolemaic system by Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo and others raise uncomfortable questions about theology?

The Ptolemaic system was the belief that all the celestial bodies (the sun, moon, planets, stars, etc.) revolved around the earth in what were called spheres and that each was represented by an orb (a planet). The farthest out sphere was that of heaven, and as such, somewhat marked heaven as a place on the galactic map. With the discoveries of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo observational evidence was given to support the theory that the earth and all other "heavenly orbs" were in fact revolving around the sun (helio-centricity). This claim, were it to replace the one of Ptolemy, would go to disprove the idea of heaven as a place. It would almost be as if the church were "losing it's rights" to heaven. Furthermore the idea that earth were the center of the universe stands to reason with the bibles human-centered account of time. Finally, since these discoveries were scientific it would go to disprove the highly scholastic claims of theologians. All in all, the church was not happy with these ideas (mainly out of fear for its own safety) and thus labeled them as herecy.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mary Wollstonecraft

I was born on April 27, 1759 in Hoxton, England. I spent most of my life living in London, but also traveled to France, Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. My most famous work is A Vindication of the Rights of Women, but I am also known for Thoughts on the Education of Daughters, and A Vindication on the Rights of Men. This was a direct rebuttal to Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France. The subject I wrote most on was education reform, particularly for women, but for men as well. I believed that women were considered inferior to men because they were taught to please instead of having a real education. I advocated Bacon's inductive method and thought that women should learn using this method as well. The best was to make observations was to travel and learn form experience. The first editions of many of my works were published anonymously and my name was only added to the title page in subsequent editions. In A Vindication of the Rights of Women, I cited the ideas of Rousseau and agreed with some, but disliked how he did not extend his ideas to women. I was married only once, but had a daughter from a previous affair named Fanny. While married, my husband William Godwin and I lived in separate, but adjoining residences so that we could retain our independence. Our only daughter, Mary, would one day grow up to write Frankenstein. I am often considered to be the first feminist.

Catherine the Great

Catherine was born May 2, 1729 as Sophie Friederike Auguste von Anhalt-Zerbst of Prussia. She married Peter of Russia August 21, 1745, (not Peter the Great) to stengthen ties between Prussia and Russia against Austria. When Peter's Aunt, tsarina Elizabeth I died, Peter assumes crown, and after a very short reign Catherine overthrows her husband with her lover Grigory Orlov, and his brothers, all prominent ranks in the Russian Army. Catherine ascends the throne in July of 1762 and dies in 1796. In her reign she successfully manages to worsen the conditions of serfdom while strengthening the government. She sets up a constitution for the people and takes away the state service act. Russai, Austria, and Prussia all gain new lands through the partition of Poland, and Catherine pushes for every piece of land she can get. She sells off crown lands and beats back the Ottoman Turks and aquires a large portion of land in the Black Sea Region. She increases trade through the new ports on the black sea, and manages to modernize Russia through enlightement and modern ideals. She attracted great enlightenment men and philosophers to her courts such as Voltaire, Arouet, and Diderot. She is a known intellectual and publishes a few books on ideal Russia government among other subjects. She believes that in order for a country to be strong, it needs a very large population, and Catherine therefore encoureages immigrants to come to her country and settle. She had at least 12 known lovers, and 3 children. Her eldest, a son ascended to throne upon her death in 1796. Her second, a daughter died at age 2. Her last was also a son.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

How would you describe a scientific view of the world in the seventeenth century? What beliefs did many Europeans hold in the seventeenth century

Scientific outlook in the 17th century was pretty complicated. I think most people knew their lives could be easier but nobody had the spare time from their outrageous work lives, and nobody could really interact about these types of things freely. Because a lot of the new theories were invading the beliefs of the church it was seen as sin full. many people knew this however everyone promoted it. science made their lives easier. Technological advancements were the largest promoter for science in the 17th. only because it helped people do what they do, it freed up more time for everyone. But the astronomy part of it was risky. new advancements led to better means of discovering space. the new ideas discovered however went against both ancient knowledge and religion. thus creating a very skeptical outlook on it.

How did the Newto reinforce confidence in human powers?nian system

Newton wanted a world where people weren't using religion as the reasoning for why something natural happens or exists. He wanted people to use the reasoning of which they were given to find a solid concrete reason that actually made sense to everyone and could be proven. I think this is the main thing that reinforced the "common people's" confidence in their own powers, their ability top reason. They had already realized through humanism that they could use their own individual powers to decide on certain things instead of relying on the word of GOD every time they needed an answer; Newton just showed them how they could put these powers of reasoning and knowledge to a good cause. This wasn't Newton's main goal. His goal was truly for science not for the people, although it could be quite possible that he had known what effects this would have on humans' idea of their abilities.

Friday, November 21, 2008

In what ways were Locke’s ideas about private property and human liberty contradictory?

While Locke promoted the idea of human liberty, he also supported the slavery. How was that possible? Human liberty, in Locke's view, only applied to the human beings who were rational, or were able to become rational through education. African Americans, who were believed to be inferior than the others, therefore could be denied fundamental human rights. African American slaves were only properties different from other "able" human beings, and since the right of private property was ought to be fulfilled, the enslavement was justified.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What beliefs did many Europeans hold in the seventeenth century that contradicted a scientific outlook?

There were many beliefs held by Euopeans during the 17th century that contradicted a scientific outlook. One of those was the strongly-held belief that the heavens were perfect. Until the development of Galileo's telescope no one had a reason to believe that the moon was in fact covered in craters formed by passing comets. Plus as more and more disoveries were made regarding the movement of the planets and the magnitude of the universe those that held faith in the beautiful crystalline spheres or the existance of Heaven began to become worried. Suddenly some of Christianity's deepest beliefs were in question. The heavens were the realm of God, the place of saints, so how could it be imperfect? Where was heaven if not in the stars? Many of these discoveries made by Galileo and others therefore shook the Chrisitian community and when more and more evidence came to call it true those that couldn't stand to let their deep faith be called untrue decided instead to call the great astronomers heretics and blasphemers and their work false. This religious faith was the most intense/ prominent contradiction to the scientific outlook during the 17th century.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Bacon or Descartes? Deductive method or the inductive method?

I think Bacon and Descartes are equally important. Descartes was important because he decided that he existed and related thought to the universe and how relative thoughts are in a bigger picture. Bacon depicted information and conclusions as obvious and unnecessary: conclusions should only be based on fact and experience. Descartes also was very religious and that was important because it was science and the belief in God that influenced his experiments and reason. And inductive method...this is based again on truth and experience... and I think that that was what Bacon was trying to get across from the beginning.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Practical Ramifications of Science During Newton's Time

During Newton's time science was finally figuring out the rules of the Universe and Earth. Gravity was described, the laws of motion were written, light was being figured out, and the solar system and our place in the Universe was being defined. All of these things led to many devices that helped Europe in its expansion and control over a good part of the globe. With gravity and the laws of motion artillery and guns could be made more accurate through math and physics. Optics helped discover new lands through the use of eye pieces as well as peer into outer space with primitive telescopes.

Ptolemaic system vs. Copernicus, Galileo, and Kelper

The Ptolemaic system was first thought up in the 2nd century a.d. by the Greek scientist Ptolemy. His theory was that earth was the center if the system and that everything else orbited around earth in sphere of incresing perfection. After the last ring was Heaven, the most perfect, and Christians accepted this because it gave a good explanation of Heaven. Then in the 16th and 17th centuries a few scientists question this theory, mainly Copernicus. The Copernican theory said that the sun was the center of the universe and that the earth and the other celestial bodies moved around it. There was no realm for heaven, and basically it was right because it was preved by math to be more accurate than the Ptolemaic system. Kelper and Galileo expanded on the principle math and refined the theory. Now that it was proven that the Ptolemaic system was wrong, and there was no longer a physical place for heaven, the church and christians all over Europe were confused and had no idea what to believe. Several rejected the theory, and the church made Galileo recant his theories and beliefs of the new Copernican system. Christians were frightened of this new belief about the universe, and the French scientist Pascal himself a devout Christian was deeply troubled by this knowlege. If God and heaven could no longer be explained by the exestence of the realm beyond which man could somewhat see, then how did they know he even existed at all? While almost all scientists of the time were Christian and kept their faith in God, they felt they had to explain their world through science and math. Unfortunately theology was forced to change dramatically along with the ground breaking advances in science.

Cartesian dualism

Descartes' philosophy, Cartesian dualism, is based around the creation of two different realities in the universe. These two different realities are thinking substance and extended substance. Thinking substance is everything inside the mind, while extended substance is everything outside the mind. Descartes recognized the importance of mathematics in the world around him. To him, everything in the physical half of the universe (extended substance) could be interpreted through formulas and equations. This philosophy is an example of the biggest difference between Bacon and Descartes, which is Descartes' use of mathematics.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

acon or Descartes? Deductive method or the inductive method?

Both Bacon and Descartes were important in opening a new era of science. With the advent of both scientists, deductive method was replaced by inductive method. Bacon especially supported inductive reasoning and empiricism. He believed that abstract ideas should be drawn from concrete observations and experiments. Bacon failed to understand the importance of math, but Descartes solved this problem. He believed that nature could be reduced to mathematical form and paved the way to more simple, systematic science.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

William v. Peter the great.

I think Peter the great was the better of the two. only because he completely modernized Russia. he did, in one lifetime, what took most of Europe a few century's to figure out. now, granted, he learned allot from the french and the more sophisticated of the empires. but he built Russia into a super power that lasted. Prussia was strong yes, and revolutionized organized warfare. but their strength was short lived. where as Russia carried on.  

Which monarch was more important –Peter the Great or Frederick Wilhelm?

Peter the Great was more important then Fredrick. For one, Prussia did not last as long Russia and was not as powerful as Russia became. Before Peter the Great Russia was not a superpower and was essentially isolated from the rest of Europe. It was having problems with it's leaders and was in need of somebody powerful. Peter, who had lived in Europe throughout his life had a fascination of ship building. During his rule he saved Russian economy by taxing people particulary the lower class. He also replaced the Duma with a Senate that eventually was productive. All in all Peter the Great made Russia competition with all of hte other Powerful European nations.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Service mentality in Russia and Prussia

Both the Prussian kings and Peter the Great tried to create a service nobility and a service mentality. Why? How successful were they in achieving their goals?

First off, I think the attempt to create a service nobility is merely part of the main movement towards a service mentality in a country. A service mentality (as the name suggests) makes it easier for the government to rule. Any military, in order to be successful, must be an efficient decision-making machine, where any decision made above is followed immediately and without question by those below. This makes for very effective legislation and a general malleability of society. The Prussian kings and Peter the Great undoubtedly saw a service mentality among the populace as the easiest path to their view of world rule, and thus pursued it. As to how successful they were, both parties were able to make the military (and service) a key part of society. But, it is very difficult, without an enormous amount of influence and control, to create a completely tiered society, be it because people are too widely spread or resistant factions. The best the Prussian kings and Pete were able to do was the make military service the respectable thing to do.

On President Dmitry Medvedev

The president of Russia gave a very lengthy speech to his people on November 5, the day after Obama's election to Office. Here are some key points I found in his speech that pertain to what we just covered in section 26:

-There is a new senate for the president, and it is named the State Duma.
-Georgia apparently attacked Russian peacekeepers.. (The tartars are still giving Russia trouble in this day and age)
-The president aknowleges the countries policies to become a state without people, since it prevailed in centuries before, and hopes to reverse that.
-The president says he is trying to get representation for all his people in the Duma, especially since some officials that represented at least 5 million people were not elected in...
-He apparently is still working on modernizing Russia as has some plans in place to expand the technology and connection to the outside world.
-He would like to expand the terms of Duma reps and his term to that of 5 or 6 years.
-Several laws have apparently been signed to reduce corruption in the government bodies, (he never goes over how this would be enforced, except for by appropriate disciplinary action.)
-He is pro-immigrant, like Peter the Great, but they must conform to Russia's social standards if they are to be allowed citizenship.
-He wants to employ drastic educational standards and reforms, along with finding talented children and using their talents and abilites to further Russia's modernization processes.
-He also believes the world, and the European Nations plus America specifically are testing Russia and are bullying him.
-He would like to get the government more involved in trade and idustry for regulation and government support.

The President overall resembles Peter the Great in his attitudes towards modernizing and reforming Russia and the legal systems, he also wants to 1 up the global competition and become an independent and self relying country. He is strengthening the armies with missles and states that it is merely for defense against the larger nations. Also his reforms of government sound good enough, but I have a feeling it will give his administration strength over the smaller parties which he wants to give power to so that they can weaken and 'counter balance' the larger parties.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Which monarch was more important –Peter the Great or Frederick Wilhelm?

First of all, which Frederick Wilhelm? The Great Elector of Brandenburg or King Frederick Wilhelm I of Prussia? It's not going to change my answer, I was just confused. Anyway. I think that Peter the Great was more important because his actions set Russia on it's course through 1917. Before his reign, Russia was more Asian than European. He brought the culture and government of France and the economic policies of England to Russia. He encouraged mercantilism and conquered important territories for Russia. He made Russia European. I think though, that he influenced the history of Russia more strongly through his government. He got rid of the duma (which was useless anyway) and made himself an absolute ruler. He made it so the tsar had the power to choose a successor that was not his firstborn son. Most importantly, I think, all of his reforms excluded the peasants. The serfs were like the African slaves of the Americas. Through this exclusion of the serfs, they became wary of any type of central authority. The serfs became more oppressed during his reign while the nobility became more powerful. It was this imbalance between classes that led to things like the Russian Revolution of 1917. Without Peter the Great's reforms, major historical events like that would not have happened.
P.S. I'm really sorry if this is confusing. I was kind of just rambling.

Using maps, compare Europe in 1648 and in 1748:why did they lose, why were they weak, and what happened to Poland?

In 1648 the 3 large states of the Holy Roman Empire, Kingdom of Poland, and the Ottoman Empire all lost a lot of territory. The Holy Roman Empire lost its lands in small chunks at the Peace of Westphalia at the end of the 30 years war. The peace also disintegrated the HRE into small nation-states and therfore they were more easily convinced to join other well off nations a little at a time. For the HRE Prussia was the major gainer, slowly Prussia inherited parts of the HRE and connected them through their new stronger monarchy due to the army. The Kingdom of Poland slowly shrank while the King struggled to keep his lords under control, as well as his diverse people. Peter the Great of Russia ended up getting Poland and the Lithuania area with new and strong Kingdom of Russia. The Ottoman Empire was slowly beaten back and out of Europe as the Emperor of the Ottomans struggled to keep his people united also. Christians and Muslims had their own laws, and cuture was kept, making them even more diverse. All the warring took their tolls, and the Ottmans did not fight with the vigor they once had, and the Austrian Habsburgs with their newly strengthened monarchy were able to beat them back into SE Europe.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Potosi now

"Which monarch was more important –Peter the Great or Frederick Wilhelm?"

Peter the Great changed the country of Russia drastically, for better or for worse. His determination to westernize Russia entered into many aspects of life for the Russian people. He even banned some Russian customs, such as simply having a beard, and repeatedly attempted to make Russia more European. The creation of St. Petersburg is a very significant event in that it moved Russia's lean from Asia to Europe. Peter created a new Russian army, and took control of the Russian Orthodox Church. Although both very important monarchs, Peter the Great made a much larger impact on his country and Europe as a whole.

Which monarch was more important –Peter the Great or Frederick Wilhelm?

I personally think that Fredrick Wilhelm was more important in respect to his country. Austria before him was almost struggling. The Turks were literally knocking on the door and they had to rely on their allies to fend them off. Fredrick's talents in military were his biggest strength. Since Austria at the time had next to nothing overseas and relied mainly on what goods they produced from withing their country, they had no foreign power. At this point in Europe an Army both in number and skill was absolutely vital if you wanted any power as a country. Fredrick created a skilled army that was also enormous... ranging near 7 million. Although he never got to use such a force, his predecessor Frederick II used it to claim Silesia which was a great population builder and provided more resources in which to gain profit. I truly think that Frederick Wilhelm was an excellent leader and ended up being more important to his country than Peter the Great.

To what degree and in what ways was Peter the Great successful in westernizing Russia?

Peter the Great did westernize Russia by building factories and mills to supply his army and initially improve the defense of his country but he overlooked something. Yes, he did accomplish a great deal towards the creation and strengthening of the national state of landlords and merchants. But he completely ignored the condition of peasants who at that time had become immersed in serfdom. Westernizing Russia had caused serfdom to multiply across the country. Peasants may not have been a huge concern of Peter's but they were still apart of his country and therefore depended on him.

Both the Prussian kings and Peter the Great tried to create a service nobility and a service mentality. Why? How successful were they in achieving it?

It's tough to say that this idea of a service nobility and mentality was a complete failure or complete success because it just wasn't. I think that it established both countries as a threat to other countrie, which is what these three rulers were aiming for; to put their countries on the map. They wanted it to be known that they weren't going to be pushed around by anybody else, and knew that putting emphasis on their armies and sea power was the way to do that. I think that, although not completely, this idea of "militarism" was therefore pretty successful in achieving what they wanted. I think that mainly this can be proved through the beginning and growth of Prussia. In the book it seems like at first, Prussia wasn't weak but was unorganized and in need of reform. Frederick William was basically waiting for this chance and, as I said before, made sure to focus on the army. He didn't just increase their training, but also got the townspeople involved with it as well, something that hadn't really been done before. He convinced the nobles and landed gentry to serve in the army by allowing them to hold peasants under Hereditary Subjection. With this new amount of people, the army became part of life in this country. through William's reign (1713-1740) as king the army grew from about 40,000 to 83,000 people, a huge and abvious change. Do I think that maybe this much emphasis on the army could have gone past its mark; yes I do think this, but for what this theory was created for it got the job done.

Friday, November 7, 2008

To what degree and in what ways was Peter the Great successful in westernizing Russia?

Peter was successful because he had a lot of examples which he used in westernizing Russia. Russia was behind compared to the rest of Europe and while traveling through Europe, he had been influenced by the artists, kings, scientists and took the ideas of modern Europe and wove them into the westernization of Russia. He held high standards for people of power. Education was emphasized, and the military was educated in both math and science. This helped the naval officers better navigate which ultimately made the country’s military stronger.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

To what extent did this era create the world’s first global economy?

The late 1700s and early 1800s was the basis to the beginnings of a global economy because everyone was involved and everyone owned someone or something else. with the exception of perhaps Austria, all of the superpowers in Europe began to draw away from business inside their country and push towards business that had inporting and exporting. this took place immedeatly after Europe had a craze of conquering foreign lands. Once they got the land, first they enslaved their people and farmed their lands for whatever was profitable, then brought it back and traded amungst the continent. then this process evolved into a universal trade market (East India) and eventually, once territories became more absolute (mainly after Westphalia) slaves were brought to other lands to do work for the lazy Europeans. So as you can see through the confusing words covorting in front of you... sick word... that this was a time that certainly was global. ranging from the far reaches of china and asia to the east coast of North Ameriaca and most of South America not only land and people were conquered but business was set up to accomidate the world.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How Peter the Great Westernized Russia

Peter the great gained power in 1689. He was annoyed with his country and wanted to make it a larger contender in the world. Peter wanted to make Russia more like Western Europe and so he toured Europe in search of ideas to incorporate into his country. He met engineers, kings, scientists, and ship builders and returned to his country with new ideas. He was so dedicated to modernizing his country that he hung 1200 elite army corps who did not want to westernize Russia. Peter also moved the capital of Russia to a new city named after himself called St. Petersburg. Peter increased his country's wealth and the strength of his armed forces.

Monday, November 3, 2008

What made Robert Walpole such an effective politician/prime minister?

So I was responding to Brittany's post, when I realized that my comment was long enough to become a post of it's own. But alas! When I looked there was no corresponding prompt to be found! Then I thought, "Gee , wouldn't this just be a great opportunity to create my own prompt!" So that's what I did.

Robert Walpole was one cool fellow. He had a knack for predicting the future; he seemed to have a developed understanding of how things done today will play out in the long run. Walpole saw the importance of the South Sea and East India Companies and the Bank of England--which gave Britain it's remarkable spending power through the National Debt system--even with all the problems they'd caused with the "bubble burst" of the 1720's. France on the other hand, failed to recognize this and in an act of frustration dissolved the valuable national bank that John Law had installed. Furthermore, Walpole had warned of the South Sea Companies eminent failure from the beginning. Walpole also skilled at not disturbing political hornets' nests and gaining allies. He kept land taxes down, thus convincing the Tory squires to join with the Whigs and causing the Jacobites to subside. During the calm, the Parliament had time to develop. Walpole always made sure to keep a majority in the issues he dealt with and to get rid of opposition; he piecemeal gave himself a greater say in matters. He was able to effectively introduce his innovative cabinet government which laid the grounds for the modern day executive branch. The cabinet in addition to the preexisting representative body strengthened Parliament greatly. He also kept taxes down by avoiding war as often as possible. All in all, Walpole did Britain a lot of good.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What factors most likely account for the West gaining global ascendancy?

I think the most important factor in Europe's dominant global influence is the deep-seated desire for progress found so strongly in Europe. Other nations had no lack of technological, cultural, and moral progress, but Europeans always seem to be the first on the list when it comes to perfecting guns, making better slaver ships, and trying to find more ways to make themselves money. Maybe it’s not a need for progress, maybe its some kind of genetic desire for laziness, an innate disposition towards anything that makes their life easier. The Incas and the Maya, from what I have seen, had thriving civilizations that did not move towards new ways to avoid doing something themselves, whether by paying someone else to do it or finding a way to make it happen at the push of a button. Whatever this underlying feeling was, it was what drove Western merchants and patriots to other continents. Once there they attempted to westernize the area to make them compatible with the flow of money and ideas. And thus, through force and corruption, the Western way became the worldly way.

Which had a greater impact in setting the political stages for the rest of the century –the War of Austrian Succession or the Seven Years’ War?

The Seven Years' War was much more decisive, politically speaking, than the War of the Austrian Succession. First of all, the two were really more like one war with a little break in between, in which the alliances were changed (Diplomatic Revolution). That being said, the Seven Years' War was in some ways a continuation of the War of the Austrian Succession; the Habsburgs vs. Prussia and the French vs. Britain. However, unlike the first war, the Seven Years' was, considering where the battles were fought, more of a global war. In America (the U.S.), the French gave up their claims to the British and the Spanish opening up new opportunities for expansion economically and culturally . In India both the French and particularly the British became increasingly involved with politics. Also, Prussia displayed its formidable military strength proving itself as a nation and as more than a match for the Habsburgs. Russia reared its head in the war. All in all, the over all strength and influence of the British empire became more important and a new player was added to the game with the affirmation of Prussia (opposing the Habsburgs and creating the "dualism of Germany").

Was the eighteenth century, overall, a reasonably good time to live?

Generally speaking, life in eighteenth century Europe improved for those who were already living well, and got worse for those who already had it bad. Obviously, the wealthy noble class, the land owners, and aristocrats lived very well. The bourgeois' life tended to improve as well, although it was previously a solid lifestyle, for the line between bourgeois and nobility was no longer as clear. The stories of Thomas Pitt and Jean-Joseph Laborde exemplify this. As for the peasants and laboring class, quality of life lessened. In eastern Europe, a return of serfdom took away many peasants' liberties. Occasionally however, one who was poor would get lucky, and rise up through the social ranks. Opportunity existed moreso than previously.

How did the diplomatic revolution of the 1750s prove decisive in European history?

The diplomatic revolution “broke” old alignments that had been ongoing throughout European history. The alliances formed as a result of the Seven Years’ War were unexpected, as France and Austria had been enemies for a long time. Prussia and Britain, who were also unexpected allies, allied. This would be cause for later conflicts.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

What caused the great financial scandals of the 1720s?

We all know of the Bubbles in England and France, and how it started out 1714-15. This great Bubble scandal started out as a few companies established by Scottish man named John Law. He personally financed the South Sea Company for England, and the Mississippi Company for France. While they created the monopoly over all other companies, he also established the national Bank of France and assumed all government debt through it. Many people invested in these seemingly profitable companies, and they were doing good for a few years. The companies were buying selling and trading the stock with good margins that kept increasing. Then John Law's credit and financing failed with such collassal stock prices, and while he fled, people lost entire life savings in failed companies. After this incident, the French company and all French assests in the company such as the Orleans company which was absorbed by it, and the French Bank were ruined and the country never recovered their credit. The French people refused to help the government and for another century the French people remained wary of government credit. In England however, the scandal played out and was fixed, Under teh direction of Robert Walpole the English people accepted the responsibility of bailing the gvernment out and several large independent corporations gave loans and bought bonds from the government and recovered and saved the bank of England and the credit of the government.

Over all, Was the 18th century a good time period to live in.

I think the 18th century was had its ups and downs, and it all depended on your social status. If you where rich and in the higher living class, you where all set. And naturally if one was poor his life wasn't the best. But, there was now a middle class where one could prosper comfortably and be able to supply for his family. The 18th century was a high point for a few country's also. if you where to live in Thea's countries during their "golden age" then of course the economy would be good, and there would be jobs for persons looking for work. i think that if one where to live i the 18th century then they would have more of a chance for success in anything that they did weather it would be a merchant or noble. there were more possibilities.